The one topic at Tuesday’s Republican debate that got a lot of candidates talking on stage was immigration. There were some clear lines drawn in the sand and the battle has continued on the campaign trail with candidates now trading barbs in the press. It is setting up to be a big topic for the next GOP debate on December 15 in Las Vegas.


Report from NBC News:

Texas Sen. Ted Cruz hit on immigration topics early and often Wednesday in his first public event a day after the Republican presidential debate, looking to sharpen contrasts with GOP rivals — including Senator Marco Rubio — on the contentious issue.

“Last night, you listened to one Republican after another who said, ‘Gosh, it would be mean to enforce our immigration laws,'” Cruz said at a Veterans Day town hall in New Hampshire.

“And I would point out, by the way, everyone talks about how compassionate it is to grant amnesty to 12 million people here illegally,” Cruz said. “They’re very compassionate, but it’s not very compassionate if I say, ‘I’m going to give away your job.’ That’s the opposite of compassion.”

Cruz’s aides have promised an increased effort to highlight policy differences with his rivals, and his remarks teed up a primary race increasingly headed for a collision over immigration.

Rubio — who co-authored and then renounced a failed bipartisan immigration reform bill in 2013 — is gaining momentum, and Donald Trump is still performing strongly while calling for a new “deportation force” to remove all undocumented immigrants in rapid order.

Ben Carson is also getting his opinions in by attacking Donald Trump over the matter. Report on this from the Washington Examiner:

In an exclusive interview with the Washington Examiner Wednesday before a private fundraiser outside of Richmond, Va., Carson took aim at Trump’s deportation push, saying it will “hurt” the billionaire candidate more than the Republican Party.

“I think they hurt Donald Trump in the long run,” Carson said, referring to the deportation plans. “I think there are enough people who know that there are others in the race that are very reasonable. I don’t think he necessarily is the representation of the Republican Party — far from it.”

Trump had called for creating a “deportation force” targeting illegal immigrants earlier Wednesday.

“The people that are here, the 11.5 million people here, rounding them up and deporting them may sound good to some people,” Carson said. “But it’s not pragmatic.”

“It also affects the farming industry, the hospitality industry. So, you know, we have to be pragmatic as a nation. There’s no reason that they should have to live in the shadows,” Carson said.

The battle lines are drawn. On one side, the immigration hawks including Ted Cruz and Donald Trump. On the other side, nearly everyone else supporting what is viewed as amnesty or “soft amnesty” by GOP voters called a “path to citizenship.” These candidates include John Kasich, Jeb Bush, Ben Carson, and Marco Rubio. Then there are some who fall in between those extremes, perhaps such as Rand Paul and Carly Fiorina. If I’ve mischaracterized anyone, feel free to argue in the comments.

This subject clearly is a boiling point as both sides see it as a weakness to attack. It was on full display as Kasich and Bush pounded into Trump and Cruz over “rounding up people.” Undoubtedly CNN is taking notice and will be prepared to delve into this topic deeper in mid-December with a debate in Las Vegas, home to a large illegal immigrant population.

Bush went even so far as to say that just having this discussion was, in his opinion, hurting Republicans heading into the general election. As the days tick down, the topic will likely be discussed much more as candidates attempt to highlight differences moving into next year.

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